Simple question to SLO staffers, weird answers

September 15, 2018

Richard Schmidt

OPINION by RICHARD SCHMIDT

It seemed a simple question my brain said I needed to ask.

After being in the middle of San Luis Obispo’s Anholm Bikeway insanity for more than a year, I had the impression the city’s bike planners were … , well, let’s be polite and say “amateurish.”

From the git-go, as they unveiled their “preferred” plans with bike lanes, on-street cycle tracks, two-way cycle tracks, chicanes, wiggles, bulbouts, raised crosswalks, rain gardens, traffic circles, single-lane one-way streets, two-way streets, sharrows, bike boulevards, neighborhood “branding,” and a whole lot of other stuff, it appeared they’d consulted their textbooks and pulled out one of this, two of that, three of something else and tossed it all together like a salad.

It looked like a school-boy project. I’m a teacher, so I should know.

Then, as “plans” advanced with SLO’s bike designers proposing things the world’s best bike planners have denounced as dangerous and unfit for anywhere, the need to ask my brain’s question grew.After the bike tribe, headed by BikeSLO County, the most powerful special interest in town, and their alter ego with the Orwellian name SLO Streets for ALL, whose program would steal half the width of North Broad Street for the exclusive use of a handful of bikers, fell in line with staff’s dangerous designs, repeating, as per their pre-arranged script, that they are “safe,” the question rattled my brain more insistently.

Finally, when SLO’s bike staff publicly dissed critique of a deadly safety problem, by which cars turning left into dozens of driveways – which against the advice of top international planners would cross cycle tracks — requiring what amounts to a “left turn from the right lane of a multi-lane street,” my brain demanded the question be asked. This safety issue is explained below.

What my brain wanted to know: does SLO’s bike staff have any actual experience designing cycle tracks?

So I emailed bike planners Adam Fukushima and his boss, Jake Hudson.

Here’s that e-mail message:

“Adam, I’m curious how many on-street cycle tracks you have designed prior to this one?”

Same message to Hudson.

Fukushima didn’t answer. Hudson did:

“Richard, These are the first cycle tracks that will be designed and installed by the City. The designs will be based on the adopted State guidance, best practices, and standards. Thanks, Jake Hudson”

Hmn. OK. Maybe they’ve had experience elsewhere than in SLO. So I wrote back:

“Thank you Jake. I know that. My question was regarding what is your prior experience with designing tracks. Can you respond to that?”

Soon a reply arrived:

“The City has a variety of types of bike facilities throughout the City. Each one has unique aspects to it but any facility will be based on the adopted State guidance, best practices, and standards. I and my staff’s experience with cycle tracks is through our continued review and research of the State’s development of these standards and guidance since adoption of Assembly Bill 1193 otherwise referred to as the Protected Bikeways Act of 2014. Thanks, Jake Hudson”

OK, I think that means no experience – that “staff’s experience” consists of “review and research,” not design, implementation and post-project performance and safety evaluation. Just to make sure – I wanted to be right about this –, I asked for confirmation:

“Thanks Jake. So it sounds as if you are saying staff, including yourself, have not actually designed cycle tracks before? Is that correct?”

To which I then got a head-spinner copied up the food chain to his boss, Tim Bochum, and Bochum’s boss, Public Works Director Daryl Grigsby, and City Attorney Christine Dietrick:

“Richard, The answer to your last question is no, that is not correct. Given that we have reason to believe that there is a litigation threat related to this project, staff will not be answering any further questions on this matter at this time. Thanks and we look forward to resuming discussion once the threat of litigation has passed or any litigation filed has been resolved. Thanks, Jake Hudson”

Wow! So, if “that is not correct,” what did his previous answer mean?

No matter, we’re apparently never going to get an answer. An attorney who saw this remarked, “Given that some of the potential actions against the city are not affected by any statute of limitation, the refusal to respond to citizen questions could go on for quite some time.” Like forever. Do you suppose that might lead to some litigation?

This new issue, “litigation,” required expansion of my quest for truth. So I addressed attorney Dietrick:

“Dear Ms. Dietrick, Last week I asked Jake Hudson and Adam Fukushima how many cycle tracks they’ve designed, which seems like a perfectly worthy and legitimate question. Hudson answered for the two of them, or rather he refused to answer, seeming to imply that you had told him not to answer.

“Did you do that? If not, fine. If so, why the effort to shut down free flow of legitimate public information? Thanks. Richard”

To which I got another head-spinner:

“Mr. Schmidt, I saw Mr. Hudson’s response, which I believe answered the question you posed completely and directly. As to your question to me, I am not at liberty to share confidential communications with my client or my client’s authorized representatives with parties with whom I do not share attorney-client privilege, so I can’t tell you what I did or did not advise Mr. Hudson. That said, it is never my objective to “shut down the free flow of public information.” My job is to advise and defend the lawful actions of my client, the City. The Council has made a very considered and lawful decision on this matter. Jake is correct that we do have reason to believe there’s a litigation threat. Given that unfortunate reality, I will advise to the best of my ability to support and defend the Council’s decision. That is what I agreed to do when I took my oath as an attorney and accepted my position with the City and it is every attorney’s ethical obligation to his or her clients. Best, Christine”

So there you have it, question answered “completely and directly.” As for the rest, stupid me. I’d imagined someone we citizens pay $290,724.98 (Transparent California) might consider us her clients too.

If you, dear reader, have any idea whether we now know any more about how many on-street cycle tracks staff have designed than before I tried to find out, my brain needs your help.

Now, about that “left turn from the right lane” matter. If you or I tried that, we’d deserve a ticket. But the city’s designing this maneuver into cycle tracks alleged “safe” for 5-year-olds.

Normally when you turn left into your driveway, you watch for oncoming traffic and turn when it’s clear.

Turning left across a two-way cycle track, you must watch for on-coming traffic, on-coming bikes, and also bikes coming up behind you on your left, in your blind spot. Dozens of driveways cross the Anholm cycle tracks, each, in the words of Davis bike planners, a dangerous “unsignalized intersection.”

Experts call this out as a serious safety issue.

At a recent city council meeting, Hudson dismissed the issue as not significant.

It’s stuff like this, over and over again, that makes one ask, “Do these guys have any clue what they’re doing?”

They could have told us what they know, and what they don’t, but they have chosen instead to obfuscate. Does that in itself tell us something important?

 


Loading...
Snoid

Mr.Schmidt,

 I clearly understand your comment about Dietrick either working for the city or for the public who pays her wages. The question is valid and the answer is clear. The most blatant example Iv’e ever witnessed was during the Wallace/SSLOCSD debacle. As the numerous Wallace legal hearings took place, both with employees who filed suits against the Wallace himself or the District,you would have witnessed then District legal council Mike Seitz defend his personal companion on the tax payer’s dime. With complete disregard for the Districts finances or its users, Seitz defended Wallace to the end costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, that is a fact. It was obvious a Municipality’s “legal council” is a hired gun in place to defend their friends and coworkers on the public teat with no regard for the public who funds their charades.


ml1999

I’ve ridden the bike lanes in Davis and elsewhere; I can’t recall a similar complicated, asking-for-multiple-accidents design.


What confused mind came up with this? Put a bike lane on each side of the street; or put one on one street, and the opposite direction one street over. Don’t each solve the problem?


And what middle manager deserves $200,000 per year?


shelworth

They should have just answered with “Hey, look over there, a Squirrel!”


rukidding

Everyone must remember that the city only hires the best at the highest possible salaries that they can get away with. This appears to show that they are so smart that maybe they don’t even know which end the dog’s tail is wagging. Nothing like an open transparent government especially over a simple bike path. Hurray SLO, the incompetence and corruption goes forward. At least they may be aware that they may be out of order and will probably get sued.


incompingov

Maybe they are anticipating lawsuits based on the dangerous situation they know they are creating? Wait until someone injures a cyclist because of this stupid bike lane scheme.


pi-on

Mr. Schmidt,


Excellent work! Thank you for bringing this up. Hopefully this will help in creating an alternative road plan for cyclists.


Mitch C

Who are these people? It appears that city staff is operating in a “us vs. them” mentally. If a plan is controversial enough that it requires court intervention, so be it. Maybe it is best for a court to decide issues that city staff is afraid to address directly to citizens who have a direct interest in decisions being made. The city staff works for the citizens, it appears that they forgot that.


incompingov

Hmmmm …… seems like the emperor not only has no clothes but is incompetent to boot! Richard, you’ve opened the door on their little “let’s all ride bikes” game room a little too wide and made them mad. They know what they’re doing and you don’t! And they’ve told Mom on you (the massively overpaid lawyer) to get you in trouble!


Side_Show_Bob

I’m not a SLO Resident. Thank God! I am a cyclist, however and I do ride in, through, and around SLO occasionally. In watching this entire project unfold from the outside looking in, I just can’t believe this is what the city is doing. I seriously hope there IS litigation, and lots of it! The property owners in the affected neighborhoods need to prevail. I hope neighbors unite. Please, start a ‘Go Fund Me’ to help pay for the nastiest, blood-thirsty attorney that you can find. Seriously, I know lots and lots of people that will contribute to the cause because the City of SLO needs to get their ass hammered on this one!


Rich in MB

When you elect Progressives, you get Progressive Policies of Bikes over People.

Want a different outcome…elect different people.


1 2 3